There was a question posed on Reddit this past Sunday: “Men of Reddit, what’s a thing that can be scary about being a man?”  I thought it was an intriguing question, and the answers that were given didn’t entirely shock me:

  • It is terrifying how lonely middle age is…
  • People expect you to be ‘okay’ in obviously dangerous situations…
  • Expected to make the first move…
  • She (my ex) spread rumours that I was abusive and violent…
  • Being told to ‘man up’ when you’re having a terrible day…
  • You could be the most depressed person on the planet and no one would give a shit…
  • I don’t want to be seen as a thread by people I would never hurt…
  • People don’t believe when we express sexual assault or abuse…
  • The sheer expectation that we can shoulder everyone’s stress…
  • The loneliness of it…[1]

Yes, as a man I’m comfortable walking down the street.
Yes, as a man I’m comfortable on payday.
Yes, as a man I’m comfortable leaving my drink at the bar.
Yes, as a man I’m comfortable accepting a first call to a pulpit.
I’m comfortable when these things happen because, as a man, life is sometimes easier.[2]  But…

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If I’m honest, I’d have to admit that this Reddit thread’s answers and the stories surrounding them are not just heartbreaking…they are my answers and my stories as well, landing terribly close to home.  It’s scary as hell to be a man.

It’s scary, not just because of these things, but because there’s a lot riding on maintaining my manliness.  I must protect.  I must fight.  I must conquer.  I must be the god that is portrayed and passed down because there’s an “invisible male chorus of all the other guys who hiss or cheer as he attempts to approximate the masculine ideal…the chorus is made up of all the guy’s comrades and rivals, all his buddies and bosses, his male ancestors and his male cultural heroes, his models of masculinity…”[3]   I must maintain this idea of ‘man’ and ‘manliness’ because I dare not face the scrutiny of that chorus of ancient voices.

It’s scary because I’m supposed to be an autonomous machine – no feelings, no emotions, no tears (crying is a sign of weakness!) – the world depends on me sucking it up and dealing with it.  I try to talk to women about how weird it is for a man to cry and sometimes I feel like I’m speaking a foreign language to her.  It’s utterly unexpected when a man cries, when a man expresses his heart, when a man exposes his most inner heart.  It’s scary that men don’t have more opportunities to express themselves, and it’s scary that it’s expectedly-unavoidable when men are crushed by the burdens of un-expression.

It’s scary because as much as I’d like to, there’s not a damn thing I can do about this at all.  I don’t want to be emotionally distant.  I don’t want to ‘man up and deal’.  I don’t want to carry burdens because it’s expected of me.  I want to talk, express, cry, be free – but until the world allows me space to do so, I can’t do it.  Until the world admits that my world is scary, I will continue to bow under this weight.  It’s scary because men can’t admit that their world is scary.

Friends, talk with the men in your lives.  Help them to have expression.  Help to carry their burdens – and try to ease their burden.  Help them to overcome those ancient voices of doubt, fear, distrust, and stability.  Help the men in your lives to have friends – real, honest-to-God friends – who talk, share, cry, laugh, and be vulnerable with one another.  Help the men in your lives to understand that they don’t have to do it all…they don’t have to be it all…that they’re not alone.

May God give us vision to see the suffering of the strong.  May God give us hearts to connect to the pain of the powerful.  May God give us the ability to realize that we needn’t be strong nor powerful, but honest and real.  And when we are open and exposed with one another, may we be caring and grateful, offering peace.

much love. sheth.

 

[1] “Men of Reddit, What’s A Thing That Can Be Scary About Being A Man?” Reddit.com; Accessed 12/15/2019. https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/eaymhi/men_of_reddit_whats_a_thing_that_can_be_scary/

[2] I must say that I’m not comfortable with the idea that, because I’m a man, these things are inherently easier – I’m working for and promoting gender equality so it’s all uniformly easier.

[3] Philip L. Culbertson, Counseling Men (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994), 25.

One thought on “Truth: Man.

  1. ” I -want to be different-, but know that I shouldn’t.” THIS. It’s not as easy as “oh, you’re in charge, just act differently!” Society’s expectations bind us fiercely, more fiercely than I think most notice. Maybe we all need allies so that we can each do the tiring work of unwrapping these poisonous expectations again, and again, and again….

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